Jan 27, 2012

Week One in Watercolor

My class this past Tuesday was great! 
Wonderful company (Candace Camling of course), Melinda Kabel is a pleasure to learn from, and the other students are just some of the sweetest people. Tho, it was challenging for me, the watercolor fantasy artist.

The class in a nutshell is this: she gives a project to work on, tho you don't have to do it. If you have your own it can also be like an open studio.

I decided to work out of my comfort zone and do the project....which was landscape. -_- *sigh* I do not like landscape OR still life. Find them boring. But like in college and in growing as an artist they are just as important as imagination. So kudos to me for not painting a fairy or mermaid! :P

We chose a black and white photocopy of a landscape and then did a neutral value study of it. This wasn't too difficult, but required me to stay loose in my approach and thinking. I decided to use my watercolor moleskine thats been sitting around for years unused.

After that you find a color magazine tear out of a different painting, but applying the colors from that piece to your black and white study. Make sense? So in the end you would have two paintings.

I found this to be frustrating and difficult. I chatted with Melinda about how I can see the colors for what they are, but to start mixing them.......

let's just say that I felt like I was brand new to the medium and felt what every beginning watercolor student felt..the worry that I was going to mess it up.

I think over time of building up the painting it would have turned out fine. I felt like all eyes were on me tho because I was the only one doing a landscape on hot press watercolor paper. I understand where it can create a problem, but it's what I own and like most, I can't purchase more paper at the moment.

The Ah Ha Moment
During the class I also talked to the instructor about what I was hoping to discover in the course of 13 weeks. I want to learn how to get a great sense of light and shadow without muddying up my paint. I feel I tend to do that in my work. I have noticed that for some reason the colors just don't "go" with each other.

"Love Floats" Giveaway

We talked, and she asked me to make some color palettes for skin. I needed to choose a red, yellow, and blue for each one....making several palettes from different primaries. HOURS later as I was doing this it clicked!!

The reason my shadows don't work with my lights is because I keep changing my reds, yellows, and blues throughout the painting. There is no consistency! Duh! I couldn't believe it took this long to figure out.

I finished "Love Floats" with this concept. I think she turned out vibrant and cohesive. She's muddy in places because of the work I did on her before the class. But her tail, hair, and skin all flow together.

This does not set aside my fears. I did the palettes and still feel a bit lost. I think this will definitely be a growing period in my painting. So look forward to inconsistent works full of exploration. I think. :P

Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll have a skin palette that will be "my" palette!

Here's a study I'm doing with a palette similar to artist Paul McCormack 's palette (more links below). Testing it out trying to figure out how to apply the colors, where, and when. I think this is going to take lots of practice. o.O

Rose Doré, Yellow Ochre mixed with Cad. Yellow, Phthalo Blue
McCormack did a free art lesson with Jerry's Artarama that I watched this morning. It's fascinating to watch an artist you admire work. Currently sitting and soaking like a sponge. ^_^

Here's the link: How to Set Up a Watercolor Palette: Part I
It took about 5mins to load each video (and couldn't do anything else in Safari while it loaded), so be forewarned. But I personally felt it was worth the wait.

How to Set Up a Watercolor Palette: Part II

There are other videos by him, gonna watch those next! His website is full of stuff too. Wee!

Jan 25, 2012

Special Valentine Giveaway

I would like to start a new tradition around here, and I want it to be something special given at least once a year.
I want to give away a painting, and I think Valentine's Day is the perfect time.

Title: "Love Floats"
Image Size: approx. 6.5 x 11 inches
Paper Size: 9x12

I created this piece just for the giveaway, and it's particularly special because of how I went about the process. In my previous post I mentioned I was going to take a watercolor class and I found many awesome videos/tutorials on youtube. 

I applied much of what I learned, and something clicked last night as I completed "Love Floats". I am VERY excited to see the new discovery in my later work. (discovery will be revealed in next blog post)

Why the original giveaway? I truly believe my artwork goes to those it was intended for, and I know in these times it can be difficult to obtain something extra that isn't a necessity. 

So, is this intended for you? 
Here's how you can find out...

Mandatory Entry: Post below about one of the biggest blessings you've ever received. What truly touched you and made you stand up straight knowing you were/are loved?

Additional ways to enter (get your name in multiple times):

1 entry - Share the giveaway on Facebook and Twitter and mention below
2 entries - Visit my shop and share your favorite art print below 
3 entries - Write a blog post about this giveaway and share the post here 

Please be sure to post all comments here so that nothing gets lost. If it's not below it won't count. 
I will use Random.org to determine a winner.

There's More?!
Yuppers! There will be a second and third place winner too!

Second Place Prize: *Two (2) 8x10 prints of your choice from my shop and one (1) Print of "Love Floats"

Third Place Prize: One (1) print of "Love Floats"

*open editions only

My Biggest Blessing? It's a hard question because my life is truly filled with so many blessings! It's why you see me use the word everywhere, because I am overflowing with them. 

I think my biggest blessing is when God encompassed all of me and saved me from a life that could have led to death. I mean this in a physical sense, although he saved my soul too. If he had not done that, and loved me so much to do that, I would not have my husband, my friends, my in laws, the amazing relationships with my mom, dad, and sister, it's astounding.

The life I have now as I know it would not exist....and the one that would be....makes me shudder to even think about. I knew I had to get out of that situation, that lifestyle, but couldn't do it on my own. He and I truly bonded through that experience. It's amazing what miracles he brings. :) 


Jan 20, 2012

Researching Watercolor

This semester at the Des Moines Art Center I have signed up to take a watercolor class with my friend Candace Camling. My first one. I'm not joking. I'm pretty excited the more and more I think about it.

"Be My Valentine" WIP detail
For the last couple of years, and more than ever today, I feel I lack something in my watercolor, and I think it's how to actually paint in watercolor. I am completely self taught (aside from a few tips here and there from teachers in college illustration/high school art).  You'd think I'd have a bit more knowledge after over 10 years in the medium, but after the last couple of days I have learned I lack a lot!

I some how got started on watching watercolor painting how-tos on YouTube. Wow. Though I didn't truly find what I was looking for, I got hooked on just watching other artists paint in the medium....and I would have been caught with my mouth open and my eyes glued. Such astounding fluidity and use of color! Everything so translucent and full of breath. I want to be able to do that too!

Now I do have some knowledge of color, and some knowledge about glazing, but there are steps I have missed because I haven't been taught. And I don't know about you, but if there aren't enough pictures or a video to demonstrate something, rarely get it. Translation: Books only help if they have pictures. :P Sad, but oh so true.

So I'm puttin' on my student boots again (it's been awhile!), and taking the plunge to learn more traditional watercolor. It's time. :) I look forward to sharing what I learn, but for today, here are some links I have found that I think you need to view if you have any interest in the medium, or if you just love to watch others paint!

Paint Realistic Portraits - http://www.artistsnetwork.com/articles/art-demos-techniques/paint-watercolor-portraits

Portrait in Watercolor (Grey Owl) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kxo7OkkDdY&feature=related
Portrait in Watercolor (Grey Owl pt. 2) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crSdLlTdrMA&feature=related

Susan Harrison-Tustain, Amazing Portraits! Check out her Art Lesson section - http://www.susanart.com/blog/watercolor-technique-dvd-watercolor-portrait-workshop

Then do your own search and see what you find. Just awesome!

Jan 12, 2012

A Woman with a Past


Natalie gave me a series of books by Francine Rivers that basically took me away from reality for about two weeks. Five books, five women, all from the Bible. They are called fiction because much was "filler" to complete the stories and to allow the reader to feel right there. But because of these "fillers" I learned more about these women and was led to reading the scriptures.

Rahab was not the first, but she sticks out.....or was the first to enter my mind when thinking of this project over a year ago. I had to really think about why, and I think the answer is....because she had a past.

She (by most scholars and pros) was a harlot, she betrayed her people, and she boldly asked for something in return for helping. Is that giving with a cheerful heart not expecting any pay? Nope. I relate to this. I have a past, I've been and sometimes still am nasty to others, I think a lot about my needs and myself, I like to control others, etc. The list goes on.

Here's the beginning thoughts. Her pose and the place.
Yet she showed that she believed in the LORD who sent His people to take down the strongest city on the Promise Land, Jericho. She had faith in the LORD.

What I loved so much about Francine's story of Rahab was how she wrote the possible thoughts that were going through Rahab's mind about the LORD and who He was and what He was doing......and if He could love her.

Then, she began to trust Him....turn away from the destruction and pain....and turn to Him. She got to live in the Promise Land because of that faith and trust. It's astounding to me how wide and deep and far the love of God is.

Okay, so the process...it's a lengthy one. I first started with some soft tunes to get me where I needed to be, a bit melancholy but faith filled. The drawing of Rahab on the left page was the first response (above). The drawing of Rahab on the right page of the sketchbook was more about studying her legs. It's a weird perspective....but I felt I got it. Then the drawings of environment came in.

Figuring out the setting.
I struggle a lot with environment, and I think that, along with composition, it will be the biggest struggle for me with this project. So with that said, I had to do some research.

I knew that what I'd find for Jericho would probably be a lot of ruins that wouldn't help much, so I looked up Palestinian architecture since that is the location today.

SO beautiful!!! You never really see it in the sketches, but I plan on taking time on some of those details in the architecture for the final piece. It makes me drool.

After research, I re-sketched her, trying to figure out details of the clothing, seeing if I could draw the pose again, decide the lighting...and although she looks great, I felt it lacking.

Configuring details.
The whole point of the project is to "feel" and "be there" with the character. Shoot, if I don't get that how is the viewer?!

Nope, this wasn't working and I knew it. The hard part is letting it go. And I did. I decided I needed to sketch.

Candace gave me a great piece of advice she said to sketch from reference something other than the project. Paraphrasing of course, but ya get the gist. So for the rest of the afternoon I sketched random images from around the studio. It helped, because by late evening I was ready to try again, and I think I got something.

Final sketch and layout.
There are still some adjustments to be made, but I understand this one. I can smell and feel the breeze, I can figure out her emotion, her yearning to understand God and wonder where she fits in it all, how His love could include her.

Now the tricky part...the placement of that sketch. I want freedom with these. I want open space to play.

I was reading Stephanie Law's blog today and she said something pivotal. It was if you don't draw enough, what you do draw becomes precious, thus you work harder and possibly over work to make it perfect...special...no more fun (paraphrasing again). I totally agree and I can feel it. I feel stiff in thought and execution. I teach all of the fun techniques that I know in watercolor to my students, but use only two or three.

Why?! Why am I not exploring and applying my own teachings?
Hopefully I will in these pieces, which is why I want the 12x16 space!

Which brings me to my final bit of this project....practice, practice, practice.

And I need your help!

I need to sketch more, just to sketch. I need to loosen my mind, hand, and imagination. I need to become comfortable with my favorite mediums again to where I can run free with them and enjoy the act of drawing/painting.

Please go to my Facebook page and post a word, or two, or three, or however many you want. I will sketch it in my wee little red sketchbook that I will be carrying around with me this year. I need a lot of words! Is there something you'd like me to draw? Go enter your words!

Have You Ever...

Have one of those days? 

I had my jump drive in my purse...at least I thought I did until I got to my sister-in-law's and discovered I don't. So that means no update on the Bible series until tonight. Sorry folks. But it's just one of those days that you have to go with it and not plan further ahead than the next moment. Though, I am learning that is probably the best way to live. Another wonderful opportunity to learn and grow from. :)

So I'm here, watching my wee lil niece nap away, thinking to myself what can I blog about? 

I want to share a few things I've discovered recently online from other artists. soap box → I think we as a community should support, share, and help one another on our path to becoming successful and great artists. There will always be competition, but it can be a healthy and pleasant one. Just my view.

"Peter Pan & Tinkerbell"

James Browne is having a sale today!
The Sale: FREE "Peter Pan & Tinkerbell" 8x10 print with any purchase from the Brownieman Shoppe on Etsy!!! http://www.etsy.com/shop/brownieman

Today only and be sure to mention you saw this freebee on Facebook! So go there and follow then visit his shop! http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-World-of-James-Browne

Stephanie Law's New Technique 
I found her blog - http://shadowscapes-stephanielaw.blogspot.com/ - which I'm kind of embarrassed it took me that long, and I was thrilled to see such beautiful imagery AND a new experiment (well, it's from September...). Her work has always fascinated me and pushes me to be a stronger artist in how I layout my compositions and use light.

She has started to use fixative spray on her paintings to build up the color and layers. I find this genius and must try it sometime soon. I think she's really onto something here and would love to hear if anyone else gives it a try. Here's the discovery in progress - http://shadowscapes-stephanielaw.blogspot.com/2011/09/experimenting-with-fixative-layers.html

Also don't skip her most recent work, "Wind Machine". It's stunning and you can read about the process/progress on her blog too!

SCBWI Tomie dePaola Award Contest 

Two of my closest friends, Candace Camling and Natalie Groves, entered this contest and I wanted to share the entries. The winner has been announced, but it's inspiring and motivating to see all of the entries! Please visit this link, take a glace, and see if you can't find their illustrations. Also, please visit their blogs. They're both beautiful illustrators for children's books! Can't get enough. :)

Candace Camling

Natalie Groves

Be sure to come back tonight or in another oh....say 8 hours. I'll have a progress report on my Bible series! Till then, ciao!

Jan 10, 2012

Six Month Mark

I'm so excited!
And I just had to share! Last night I finished February and that marks the sixth month. I'm halfway through the series. Wow! Keep pushin' me everyone, it's helping to keep me motivated.
"Iris" on Etsy
Here they all are together, sooooo cool to see them together (well, for me ^_^). I can't wait to have all 12 done! February was just listed on Etsy too. I'm thinking bookmarks, anyone? ;)

Tell me, what would you like to see these images used for? The idea was for birthdays but I feel maybe that's too over done? Of course, I like celebrating birthdays, so maybe I'm just old fashioned. I'm open to ideas!

Jan 8, 2012

Hello 2012

"Translucence" Final Painting of 2011
Time to let go and allow change.

I'm a control freak, you may not know it, but I am. I like everything to go my way and done quickly right when I ask. Unfortunately I hear that the world does not revolve around me. Bummer.

My challenge this year is the same as last year, to constantly give up the control I strive so hard to have, and surrender it to God. What a relief!!! Now, if I can just see it that way on a regular basis I think all would be good. This totally applies to my business and how I run my studio. I want to do everything myself and have a very hard time trusting others with my "baby". But thanks to God, I do have help and step one is allowing that help to well......help.

Brian and I sat down a week ago and organized my thoughts, to-do lists, and business plans on note cards, then on a calendar. I don't have to think about what to do, and my second challenge this year is to stick to the schedule.

But there's something else that has changed, and it's been working in my heart for a few months now. It's the question of "What is my purpose?" A question I'm sure most if not all of us have asked ourselves. I've been praying, talking, and pondering this. And even more so, how does this involve my natural gifts as an artist? I ask myself this question almost every six months, and it's a cycle, but I feel it's necessary if I am to grow.

He laid it on my heart.

The answer lies within my every day and the people I am in constant contact with.

On the side I privately tutor and advise teenagers/college students. We talk about more than just art and drawing, we talk about life. This in turn makes me reflect on my life, which then leads me to what inspires me to be who I want to be. The answer I keep going back to is a handful of men and women who have struggled and messed up, but were created and intended for GREAT things! They were special through their purpose.

These people were Rahab, Tamar, Ruth, Esther, Mary, Jacob, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, David, etc. These are familiar names to so many, and their stories truly are powerful and relatable.

Okay, so how does this relate to my business? I want to use these stories to help people learn, to retell their stories in a new way, to inspire and motivate, to show everyone that they have a purpose and story of their own! They're so amazing it's hard to believe they're truth. To me, the Bible is the ultimate fairytale....but one that DID and IS happening!

I was thinking of doing the fairytales I so adore and love this year as my personal project, but it just never settled well on my heart. I then had the question pop up in my head:

"Well if I'm going to illustrate the fairytales and stories of the world, why not do the stories that are fantastical but true?"

I am terrified of this project because it's huge and demanding. A bit out of my comfort zone, and after organizing my business on paper....where am I going to get the time?! BUT I have had this longing and find a desire laid on my heart, and most importantly...a need.

Rahab sketch
The Project

I want to paint the women and men of the Bible, but in a fresh way. I'm not sure how to describe it, so you will need to bare with me and I will show as much as I can through sketches. The pieces "Midnight Warrior" and "Sienna" (yes, her name had to be changed) are great examples of the direction I want to go. Mix those with "Translucence" and you may get the vision.

I am not going to do a lot of environment and costume research, nor am I going to worry about how accurate the piece is to the time it was written. My focus on this project is to convey the person, their experience or emotion, and try to visually allow the viewer to rest in the person/character's shoes. I admire all of the classical paintings telling the stories of the Bible, but why mimic and copy what has already been done? I don't believe they connect as richly with the people of today, especially the younger crowd.

I am not going in any order, I am just going to go. I am going to follow the light that is leading me in this and work/draw/paint on this project in His timing. No deadlines, no pressure, just to keep working at it.

The Flowers of the Month series is still going (February is in the works right now), and I hope to get the Three Pillars finished as well. My goal though, in the end, is to have a body of work that can coincide with the stories we all know so well, the stories of the Bible.

What does 2012 look like?

This year I hope to focus heavily on painting. I feel the need to really paint. And to draw or sketch more regularly. I pray that with this new project I will be sketching upon impulse, not when I just "have the time". To always carry a sketchbook with me. The visions I get for these characters rarely happen in the studio....but as I'm sitting and waiting, or teaching, or driving (don't worry, I'm not going to drive and draw).

I also plan on being more involved with my Bible. I will read each story before I paint it to make sure it is playing in my head, to be there with the characters.

And to be more in connection with you. My hope with the new blog and website layouts, that we are in more of a conversation and that I can show you more of my world and studio. Thursdays are going to be my blog days (hold me to that will ya?). So nonetheless, there should always be something here on the blog every Thursday!

Happy New Year and I pray that it is as much of a blessing for you as I know it will be for me.

Next Post: I will be sharing my Rahab sketches and progress, and why she is the first.